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UNIT 1. The Urban Frame
1. Fear of the City, 1783 to 1983, Alfred Kazin, American Heritage, February/March 1983
Alfred Kazin examines the age-old threats of the city from a personal and historical perspective. He argues that despite its excesses and aggressiveness, the city possesses an indescribable allure and magic.
2. The Man Who Loved Cities, Nathan Glazer, The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1999
William H. Whyte, best known as author of The Organization Man, was a brilliant analyst of how American cities and suburbs shape our lives. Like Jane Jacobs, another well-known city observer, he appreciated and developed original ways to document the uniquely urban virtue of density.
3. The Death and Life of America’s Cities, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Summer 2002
A generation of reformist urban mayors in the 1990s broke with the policies and perspectives of the last 30 years. Local initiatives helped control crime, improve the quality of life, reduce taxes, and, in some cases, even improve public school systems.
UNIT 2. Sprawl: Challenges to the Metropolitan Landscape
5. Is Regional Government the Answer?, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Fall 1999 8. Are Europe’s Cities Better?, Pietro S. Nivola, The Public Interest, Fall 1999 UNIT 3. Urban Economies 9. The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, The Washington Monthly, May 2002 UNIT 4. Urban Revival Part A. Financing and Costs 14. Financing Urban Revitalization, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, March 2002 15. Ground Zero in Urban Decline, Sam Staley, Reason, November 2001 16. Return to Center, Christopher D. Ringwald, Governing, April 2002 Part B. Downtown Renaissance: Culture, Tourism, and Education 17. New Village on Campus, John Handley, Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2002 19. Culture Club, Mike Sheridan, Urban Land, April 2002 20. Midwestern Momentum, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, April 2002 Part C. Immigration 21. Saving Buffalo From Extinction, David Blake, City Limits, February 2002 22. Movers & Shakers, Joel Kotkin, Reason, December 2000 UNIT 5. Urban Politics and Policies 23. Mayors and Morality: Daley and Lindsay Then and Now, Fred Siegel, Partisan Review, Spring 2001 24. Beyond Safe and Clean, Bridget Maley, Cathleen Malmstrom, and Kellie Phipps, Urban Land, February 2002 UNIT 6. Regentrification and Urban Neighborhoods Part A. On Gentrification 27. The Gentry, Misjudged as Neighbors, John Tierney, The New York Times, March 26, 2002 28. The Essence of Uptown, A. T. Palmer, Chicago Tribune, December 16, 2001 31. Rocking-Chair Revival, Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2002 32. The Geography of Cool, The Economist, April 15, 2000 UNIT 7. Urban Problems: Crime, Education, and Poverty 34. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982 35. How an Idea Drew People Back to Urban Life, James Q. Wilson, The New York Sun, April 16, 2002 36. Murder Mystery, John Buntin, Governing, June 2002 37. Crossing the Line, Sasha Abramsky, City Limits, January 2002 38. Segregation in New York Under a Different Name, J. P. Avlon, The New York Sun, June 13, 2002 UNIT 8. Urban Futures: Cities After September 11, 2001 44. Time to Think Small?, Joel Kotkin, The American Enterprise, June 2002 45. A View From the South, John Shelton Reed, The American Enterprise, June 2002
David Brooks examines urban flight and the population boom in outer ring suburbs. The middle class, he argues, no longer able or willing to afford the high cost and strain of city life, is fleeing the cities and the inner suburbs, leavingonly the rich and the poor behind.
Fred Siegel criticizes the “new regionalists” who link urban flight with blight, arguing instead that what metro areas need are better policies, not fewer governments. He redefines sprawl as “part and parcel of healthy growth” and warns against easy solutions.
By relocating out of downtown to other parts of the city and to its suburbs, Houston’s white-colar businesses, no longer dependent on close physical proximity to one another, are saving money and driving up the cost of surrounding areas. The millions of square feet of downtown office space vacated when Enron collapsed have mostly remained empty as businesses move both back- and front-office operations to less expensive parts of the city and neighboring localities.
Outdated and scarcely understood zoning laws force cities to develop in ways that no longer suit their needs. In Chicago, where zoning laws have remained mostly unchanged since the late 1950’s, they’ve made it more difficult for the city to absorb a wave of young, upwardly-mobile gentrifiers.
This comprehensive overview of differences between cities in Europe and the United States highlights a wide range of issues—transportation policy, energy costs, crime, taxation, housing policy, and schools—and contrasts the spread of sprawl outside U.S. cities with Europe’s persistent urban density.
Creative “knowledge workers” seek out cities (such as Seattle, Washington, Boston, Massachusetts, and Austin, Texas) that support their lifestyle interests: outdoor recreational amenities, historic buildings, vibrant music and cultural scenes, and tolerance of diversity that incorporates gay people and new immigrants.
Kotkin and Siegel attack the much-heralded idea of an urban knowledge economy, in which cities thrive based on their “Latte quotient,” or ability to attract and retain hip, highly educated young creative types, is overblown. Instead they argue that to prosper cities need to provide basic services like police, fire fighters and garbage men, quality schools and housing, and a business-friendly environment.
As cities begin to outsource their infrastructure to for-profit companies, the costs of private control over public resources are beginning to emerge. After Atlanta hired a private company to run its waterworks, poor service, unclean water and water-main breaks compelled the city to retake control of its water.
As cities large and small focus increasingly on how they’re perceived; image, or branding, is important in attracting businesses as well as the younger workers, tourists, and conventioneers on which cities depend. Though Louisville’s efforts have been particularly creative and effective, they’re still losing the just-out-of-college crowd to hipper “techie” cities like Austin, Texas.
Talented young post-graduates are increasingly part of “an elite intercity migration” in which cities compete with one another to attract these desirable residents. A first-rate research university seems to be crucial to appealing to the post-college set. Those cities that succeed in attracting this group tend to lose many of their less educated citizens.
The national economic downturn has made it more difficult to assemble the varying, complex levels of public and private financing that redevelopment projects demand. Current examples from Cleveland, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., prove that urban economic development is still possible for determined municipalities and developers.
Cincinnati’s long decline in population, jobs, and future prospects has led to numerous, mostly misguided, economic development schemes over the years. The riots in 2001 sparked interest in revitalizing the city by building a convention center, despite the fact that the number of conventions is dropping and cannot be shown to benefit the neighborhood. Sam Staley reminds us that cities should stick to their basic functions, such as infrastructure, allowing the market to do its work.
Christopher Ringwald describes how some states are moving their offices back downtown from the suburbs as part of a deliberate effort to generate an urban revival. Long-suffering downtowns welcome the returning jobs.
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is building a mixed-use, 68-acre development intended to transform this commuter school into a 24-hour campus neighborhood. University Village will be mostly new construction with student housing, bookstores, coffee houses, and university playing fields.
Vitullo-Martin tells how Bryant Park went from an open-air drug den in the 1970s to perhaps the world’s most densely trafficked and safest park today thanks to cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Kansas City is in the midst of a major, billion-dollar cultural development that includes several art museums, libraries, and theaters. The city sees a strong cultural scene as essential to attracting and retaining businesses seeking to recruit a talented workforce to the area.
Midwestern cities, from Chicago to St. Louis to Detroit, are using economic development strategies to create vibrant, 24-hour downtowns. The goal is to revitalize downtowns by balancing business and entertainment components with a strong residential base.
Buffalo lost about 10 percent of its population in the 1990s, but attracts many temporary refugees traveling from Canada (with its more open asylum laws). Some local leaders, aware of the substantial contributions that immigrants have made to other cities they have lived in, pin their hopes on the refugees to lead a much-needed economic as well as demographic revival.
Immigrants in Los Angeles are breathing new life into city neighborhoods that had been moribund. Immigrant residents and entrepreneurs have rescued dilapidated neightborhoods in every city to which they have migrated.
Fred Siegel teases out the ironies in the reversal of reputations of Mayors Richard J. Daley (the father) and John Lindsay, highlighting their very different approaches to the role of race in city life and politics. The contrasts are embedded in the shifting fortunes of cities and urban policies during the second half of the twentieth century.
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) began as mechanisms to promote safety and cleanliness in urban areas. Now that they have achieved their initial goals, some BIDs help guide the work of historic preservation, a common element in urban revitalization efforts in their areas.
A look at how New York has fared under Mayor Bloomberg, who has succeeded in sustaining Mayor Giuliani’s progress in fighting crime and maintaining quality of life but has yet to articulate or enact his own agenda, thus allowing the city to slip back into its forty-year cycle of fiscal decline.
The Seattle area has been a magnet for "young creatives" and entrepreneurs. But metro Seattle has lost 60,000 jobs over the past four years. Seattle’s success in attracting bright college graduates seems to come at the cost of pushing out much of its working and lower middle class population. Cleveland by contrast, a traditionally slow to adapt blue collar industrial city, has, with mixed success, remade its downtown to attract young college graduates who have been exiting.
John Tierney reports “good news” from two recent academic studies, one set in Boston and one in New York. Neighborhood improvements in safety and services ushered in by gentrification mean a better neighborhood for the existing, low-income tenants as well as for the higher-income residents who have recently moved in. Another surprise: existing residents are less likely to move out of a neighborhood that is gentrifying than were similar residents in other neighborhoods.
Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood moved quickly from looking like a “dive” whose name realtors carefully avoided to one of the city’s latest hot neighborhoods. Long-time residents worry about their fate as housing prices continue their steep upward march. Community leaders have developed some strategies to maintain balance in the mix of social classes and races in Uptown.
Harry Siegel looks at the tensions that ensue as New York rapidly gentrifies and a new class of drug users emerges with whom police are less concerned since their behavior doesn’t correspond with the Broken Windows theory of policing.
San Francisco, long home to both bohemians and businessmen, has seen the former group celebrate the end of the dot com boom, which has driven real estate through the roof, and forced many of the city’s less affluent residents to relocate. The subsequent bust has many of those who felt pushed out celebrating both declinging residential prices and a skyrocketing commercial vacancy rate as a triumph over yuppiedom.
A leading new urbanist idea, the front porch, reasserts itself in a growing number of new homes, as homebuyers at varying income levels emerge from the backyards they treasured in the 70s, 80s, and 90s to socialize with their neighbors on their street.
What makes an urban neighborhood "cool"? This global look at new "cool" districts in London, New York, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo concludes that a trendy neighborhood has to have plenty of cheap housing, young trend-setters (students, artists, musicians, fashion designers), diversity (immigrants and/or ethnic and/or racial diversity), and finally, some, but not too much, crime and drugs to give a sense of "edginess."
Some say urban tribes, fluid social networks of young, single and highly educated individuals with little in the way of religious, ethnic or family identification, are the single fastest growing group in America. They are divorced from politics and class-identification, and perhaps these self-involved young people are what cities need to thrive.
This is the seminal article on policing that created the conceptual underpinnings for New York’s dramatic decline in crime. The authors challenged the 911 theory of policing that emphasized a rapid response to crime in favor of order maintenance.
Twenty years after James Q. Wilson and George Kelling published Broken Windows, Wilson explains the origins of the idea and the connections between public order, crime, and arrests. “Broken Windows” refers to the breakdown of public order.
This article contrasts the distinct approaches to crime and policing of Boston and New York. Both cities drove violent crime way down in the 1990s, but Boston’s began creeping back up again in the year 2000. Boston’s approach emphasizes partnerships between police and parole officers, community leaders, streetworkers, ministers, and academics, while the New York model emphasizes “broken windows” policing and COMPSTAT, a crime-mapping approach linked to precinct commander accountability.
Surprisingly steep drops in crime in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood propelled rapid gentrification over the last 8 years. Sasha Abramsky looks at how “broken windows” policing of quality-of-life crimes, coupled with COMPSTAT, drives crime rates down and affects public housing residents, parolees and probationers, brownstoners, and local merchants.
Bilingual education (unlike English as a Second Language, or ESL) is a trap from which most children cannot escape. California has abolished bilingual education, and has not suffered the disastrous consequences that opponents had warned against.
While Wall Street is booming and Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg brags that “our future has never looked brighter,” New York’s unemployment rate is the highest of the America’s 20 largest cities, and 50 percent of blacks are unemployed. New York’s dependence on Wall Street generating boom-based bonuses means that “a relative handful of very wealthy people are driving” the city’s economy, while the working and middle classes depart for greener economic pastures.
Heather Mac Donald reports on the Los Angeles police force’s long decline into corruption and incompetence. She asks whether, former Guiliani Police Commissioner, William Bratton’s focus on quality of life-oriented law enforcement might revive the dejected department.
By combining the accountability of CompStat with a renewed emphasis on community relations, the NYPD and neighborhood residents are working together to keep the Northwest Bronx a poor but functional neighborhood.
The nation’s inner cities had higher population growth and a higher percentage of income growth in the 1990s than did the nation as a whole. But as cities do well, are these poorer residents being pushed out?
Public project housing began as a utopian project to eliminate poverty but rapidly devolved from a fresh start to a dead end. Harry Siegel asks by what standard should we judge the success or failure of public housing policies.
Joel Kotkin describes how the new, high-tech economy is more dispersed than the industrial wheel-and-spoke economy, allowing firms and employees to situate themselves in remote locales that fit their lifestyle choices. He warns New York to become less arrogant, to get over being “the capital of the world.”
The attacks on the World Trade Center highlighted a different view of “the city,” as John Reed tellingly refers to New York, in this post-September 11 southern twist on Alfred Kazin’s earlier consideration of New York’s role in American culture in the first article of unit 1. After September 11, 2001, tough, working-class, outer-borough New Yorkers—cops and firemen—displaced upscale wiseguys in the American imagination.
Where New York has staked its future to high real estate prices and on taxing the fortunes of its wealthiest citizens, Houston and L.A. have prospered by creating business environments friendly to small entrepreneurs and the middle class.
5. Is Regional Government the Answer?, Fred Siegel, The Public Interest, Fall 1999
8. Are Europe’s Cities Better?, Pietro S. Nivola, The Public Interest, Fall 1999
UNIT 3. Urban Economies
9. The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, The Washington Monthly, May 2002
UNIT 4. Urban Revival
Part A. Financing and Costs
14. Financing Urban Revitalization, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, March 2002
15. Ground Zero in Urban Decline, Sam Staley, Reason, November 2001
16. Return to Center, Christopher D. Ringwald, Governing, April 2002
Part B. Downtown Renaissance: Culture, Tourism, and Education
17. New Village on Campus, John Handley, Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2002
19. Culture Club, Mike Sheridan, Urban Land, April 2002
20. Midwestern Momentum, Beth Mattson-Teig, Urban Land, April 2002
Part C. Immigration
21. Saving Buffalo From Extinction, David Blake, City Limits, February 2002
22. Movers & Shakers, Joel Kotkin, Reason, December 2000
UNIT 5. Urban Politics and Policies
23. Mayors and Morality: Daley and Lindsay Then and Now, Fred Siegel, Partisan Review, Spring 2001
24. Beyond Safe and Clean, Bridget Maley, Cathleen Malmstrom, and Kellie Phipps, Urban Land, February 2002
UNIT 6. Regentrification and Urban Neighborhoods
Part A. On Gentrification
27. The Gentry, Misjudged as Neighbors, John Tierney, The New York Times, March 26, 2002
28. The Essence of Uptown, A. T. Palmer, Chicago Tribune, December 16, 2001
31. Rocking-Chair Revival, Leslie Mann, Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2002
32. The Geography of Cool, The Economist, April 15, 2000
UNIT 7. Urban Problems: Crime, Education, and Poverty
34. Broken Windows, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1982
35. How an Idea Drew People Back to Urban Life, James Q. Wilson, The New York Sun, April 16, 2002
36. Murder Mystery, John Buntin, Governing, June 2002
37. Crossing the Line, Sasha Abramsky, City Limits, January 2002
38. Segregation in New York Under a Different Name, J. P. Avlon, The New York Sun, June 13, 2002
UNIT 8. Urban Futures: Cities After September 11, 2001
44. Time to Think Small?, Joel Kotkin, The American Enterprise, June 2002
45. A View From the South, John Shelton Reed, The American Enterprise, June 2002